Some Thoughts on MV Agusta & A Story About Two Letters

MV Agusta USA recently invited a slew of journalists down to Fontana, California in order to talk about the company’s new business plan, and to ride its current lineup of motorcycles on the infield course. This article is “Part 1″ of that experience, as I wanted to separate my thoughts on MV Agusta, MV Agusta USA, and the general motorcycling climate into one story, and then have my “not-a-review” of the machines for another article. Got it? Ok, let’s go. It is probably easiest to start with where MV Agusta is as a company. MV Agusta has a started a new three-year business plan, which sees the company pushing into a full-range of motorcycles, pushing outside of its Italian boundaries, and pushing out of the “luxury” brand segment.

Photos: Ducati Desmosedici GP15

The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is a machine that has been long in the making. It represents Gigi Dall’Igna’s next step forward for the wayward Ducati Corse MotoGP team, and it is the dubious honor of holding the hopes of Ducati fans around the world, who see the machine as the silver bullet that will return Ducati to the forefront of racing prowess — no pressure. The most obvious change that can be seen on the GP15 is the re-routing of the exhaust, with the undertail pipes collecting on the right-hand side of the machine, rather than coming in from both sides and meeting in the middle. Can you spot any other changes in the high-resolution photos after the jump? Let us know in the comments.

Politics & Corruption: Why There Isn’t a Race in Indonesia

If anyone needed any further proof that Indonesia is important to the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, the fact the Repsol Honda team chose Bali as the location to launch their 2015 MotoGP project should remove any doubt. But if Indonesia is so important to the manufacturers, and to MotoGP, why is there not a race there? Over the course of the MotoGP test at Sepang, I had a few conversations with people on the subject. On the record, the story was always the same: we need a suitable track, and as soon as one exists we will be happy to go there. Off the record, however, they were much less optimistic.

A Requiem for Kenji Ekuan & The Kando of GK Design

Industrial design is not a commonly known, much less well understood, profession. To some it suggests arranging equipment inside factories, to others it means some kind of product engineering. In reality it is the search for, and expression of, human satisfaction in inanimate objects that are mass produced. That’s quite a mouthful, and to the average person it may sound like jiberish written for some pretentious coffee table book, but it is the truth. At least, it is one version of the truth as seen by the GK Design Group of Tokyo, Japan. If you ride motorcycles, then you are intimately familiar with the work of this large and internationally respected studio. Since only its second production bike, the indigenously designed YA-1, every Yamaha motorcycle since 1958 has been crafted by GK.

Are You The MV Agusta F4 RC?

What look to be official photos of the MV Agusta F4 RC have leaked out onto the internet, along with a slide from MV Agusta’s media presentation on the machine. The photos give us our first glimpse into Varese’s homologation special, complete with a special two-can exhaust by Termignoni. The leaked slide confirms some of the numbers being thrown around about the F4 RC, namely that it will have 212hp, 81.86 lbs•ft of torque, weigh 175kg dry, and cost €36,900 (we already know that the MV Agusta F4 RC will cost $46,000 in the USA). Information from a leaked slide last year has already told us that MV Agusta has radically overhauled the F4 RC’s engine, designing a new cylinder heard, new crankshaft, new camshaft, as well as adding bigger fuel injectors, lighter pistons, and titanium connecting rods.

Kenji Ekuan, Designer of the Yamaha VMAX Has Died

Mainstream news is mourning the death of Kenji Ekuan today, as the 85-year-old Japanese industrial designer is one of the most influential artists in Japan’s modern era, and is most well-known for his designing of the iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle. Ekuan’s lesser-known works though include a number of motorcycle designs for Yamaha, including the now 30-year-old Yamaha VMAX motorcycle, which makes his passing even more meaningful to motorcyclists around the world. Kenji Ekuan founded GK Industrial Design after WWII, and his company helped shape the way Japan rebuilt itself after the world war.

Ride Review: KTM 1290 Super Adventure

Despite its huge dimensions, not to mention a 30 liter fuel tank, the 2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure never looks big or bulky. In fact, it is only when you mount the hard luggage that you can tell this bike can really cover long distances. Apart from a dorky little exposed wire from the heated grips near the throttle, the fit and finish is very high-end, especially the integrated curved lighting in the tank — it is quite a sight. At first glance the Super Adventure doesn’t have the massive personality and stance of its German rival, the BMW R1200GS Adventure, but that is in part due to the white color scheme and the absence of the typical beak as a front mudguard. KTM is going about things differently, and that is something that appeals to many riders…including us.

Yamaha VMAX Carbon – Celebrating 30 Years of VMAX

It is hard to believe that the venerable Yamaha VMAX has been around for 30 years (it is even harder to believe that the VMAX has only seen one design revision in that timeframe as well), and so Yamaha is bringing out a special edition model to celebrate this special motorcycle. The 2015 Yamaha VMAX Carbon is exactly as the name implies: a VMAX drag bike laden with lightweight carbon fiber. In total, the VMAX Carbon’s tank cover, front and rear fenders, and side covers are all made from carbon fiber. Yamaha has teamed up with Akrapovic as well, and as such the Slovenian company’s slip-on mufflers complete the exhaust system and the changes to this beastly drag bike.

LEAKED: Here is the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse

Cruisers aren’t really our forté, here at Asphalt & Rubber, but breaking stories is…so, without all the typical fanfare, we bring you the first full photos of the upcoming 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse. The Stead is murdered out and visually appealing, with black engine covers, black fenders, black forks…hell, even the tires are black. Under the hood is Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, which is an air-cooled 1,811cc v-twin good for 73hp and 100 lbs•ft.More technical features include ABS as standard, a keyless ignition system, cast wheels, and a solo seat. Our Bothan Spies suggest an MSRP of $17,000, and more accessories (all black, natch) than you can fit into the belly of a Tauntaun. Expect to see the Indian Chief Dark Horse launch officially on February 13th elsewhere.

Washington State Weighs Pro Lane-Splitting Law

The Washington State Legislature has a pro lane-splitting bill on its 2015-2016 docket, HB 1515. The law is moderately written, adopting a 10 mph speed differential between the motorcycle and traffic, with a 35 mph speed cap, as acceptable during lane-splitting activities. Loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers will recognize these provisions as being more restrictive than the California Highway Patrol’s now defunct guidelines. Lane-splitting is a near-and-dear topic to us here at A&R, as we believe a national effort to legalize the practice should be mission #1 for the American Motorcyclist Association.

Ruben Xaus to Start 200th WSBK Race at Phillip Island

02/14/2011 @ 5:21 pm, by Victoria Reid9 COMMENTS

Ruben Xaus will start his 200th World Superbike race at Phillip Island, making him the third rider in this season’s field to start such a large number of races. He will join the ranks of Carl Fogarty, Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, Aaron Slight, and Frankie Chili in numbers of starts by racing at the season opener later this month. Xaus began his WSBK career with two wildcard entries in 1998, after a rookie Supersport season in 1997.

He returned to World Supersport for 1999 and 2000, but began his full-time career as a World Superbike rider in 2001. He left WSBK for the 2004 and 2005 seasons to go racing in MotoGP, with a career high of third at Qatar in 2004 on a satellite Ducati. Xaus was named MotoGP Rookie of the Year for 2004 and moved to a satellite Yamaha for 2005, where he did not have the same luck.

Corser Sits Out Testing After Crash at Phillip Island

02/04/2011 @ 10:23 am, by Victoria Reid1 COMMENT

Troy Corser was forced to sit out the second day of testing for BMW Motorrad at Phillip Island after a crash Wednesday left him heavily bruised. The team was testing at Phillip Island after skipping the official World Superbike test at Portimao in favor of warmer climes, first at Eastern Creek and now at Phillip Island in Australia. Though the team said the test was satisfactory, any crash major enough to force a rider to sit out a day of testing can be worrisome. He is apparently fine, but had “painful bruises” that kept him from riding effectively.

That crash left Leon Haslam to do the bulk of testing for his new team. “We were still focusing on electronics and worked on a setup for this race track,” Haslam explained. “This was important as in three weeks time we are going to have our first races of the season here. We have already found a good base to work on. I am happy; we made some good progress. My lap times were quite good for these hot conditions. Of course we still have some work to do before the season starts but I am happy with the progress we made so far. The bike improved a lot in the last month.”

WSBK: BMW Motorrad Italia Launches in Monza

01/17/2011 @ 2:21 pm, by Victoria Reid4 COMMENTS

BMW Italy launched its satellite team at Monza on Monday, which will see James Toseland partnering with WSBK rookie Ayrton Badovini, on BMWs that are only barely removed from the factory effort. According to Bernhard Godmayer, Head of BMW Motorrad Motorsport, “Now we can count on two teams, and we want to establish an excellent relationship between them, allowing for a constant exchange of data.

The German engineers will have a chance to compare themselves to the Italian engineers, and vice versa.  The first step in development will be given to the factory team, and once it is tested and approved, it will be passed on to the Italian team.”

As such the major engine development for the BMW Superbike effort will fall on factory riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam. Toseland is on his second season back in WSBK after a failed effort in the satellite Monster Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP squad. His experience and double world championships should help BMW in its effort to improve beyond what Godmayer called the team’s “not satisfactory” 2010 season.

BMW approved this Italian arm of the BMW Superbike effort on September 21st, according to team director Andrea Buzzoni, in an effort to improve the company’s overall standings in World Superbike.

BMW Continues Changes in WSBK Team Structure

12/18/2010 @ 7:26 pm, by Victoria Reid11 COMMENTS

After rumored and real strife at the end of the WSBK season, BMW Motorrad continues to rearrange their team structure. The team, according to a recent press release, has continued on with the restructuring. BMW Motorrad Motorsport announced Thursday that Rainer Bäumel is the new Head of Race Operations, after being the Technical Director, with Stephan Fischer Head of Development, and Josef Hofmann the Managing Director of the factory.  After leaving Ducati at the end of the 2009 season and signing on as team manager for BMW for the 2010 season and producing something a turnaround for the team, Davide Tardozzi either left or was forced out due to “different ideas regarding the structure of the team,” leaving Bernhard Gobmeier to named as BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director in October.

According to Gobmeier, Thursday’s announcement might just be the end of the restructuring, “In filling these three key positions we are concluding the restructuring of the team management.” He also noted that this “new formation is leaner and the division of labour more clearly delineated,” which is either a statement of the obvious or a bit of a slap to Tardozzi’s management style, since “All three report directly to…Gobmeier.”

Photos: BMW S1000RR WSBK Hits the Wind Tunnel

11/16/2010 @ 11:07 am, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS

As the BMW World Superbike team prepares for the 2011 season, Leon Haslam and Troy Corser took a break from their training regiment to spend some time in BMW’s wind tunnel facility in Bavaria. Looking to hone the maximum performance out of the S1000RR, both riders worked on their optimal streamlined body positions in speeds up to 150 mph. The BMW WSBK team also looked at the S1000RR’s fairing, examining how to optimize the bike’s Cx or coefficient of drag (we assume any modifications that were made were WSBK legal of course).

The team will get to test its results later this month in Jerez, and in the meantime Haslam and Corser will be shipped off to a BMW fitness training bootcamp with fellow BMW riders James Toseland and Ayrton Badovini from the BMW Italia squad, along with members of the BMW Enduro team. We don’t like the sound of this training camp, but BMW has given us 12 high-quality shots of the S1000RR in the wind tunnel, which we enjoyed.

Tardozzi Fired from BMW WSBK Team – Mechanics May Strike at Magny-Cours

09/29/2010 @ 3:53 pm, by Jensen Beeler10 COMMENTS

According to our good friends at MotoMatters, Davide Tardozzi has just been handed his pink slip from the BMW World Superbike Team. The Italian manager has been instrumental in helping BMW get its house in order, but Tardozzi and the rest of BMW’s non-German crew are being purged from the team regardless. Tardozzi had apparently been banned from the BMW garage, as World Superbike heads to Magny-Cours this weekend, but the team’s mechanics are expected to work through the end of the season. Apparently not pleased with the idea of being replaced, the non-German mechanics are rumored to be planning a strike for Magny-Cours.

Troy Corser Officially Signs with BMW for 2011

09/23/2010 @ 8:25 am, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

There hasn’t been much doubt in the World Superbike paddock that Troy Corser would be anywhere but in the BMW camp for the 2011 season (although the same can’t be said for teammate Ruben Xaus), so it’s no surprise that the German company has signed the Australian rider up for another season in WSBK. Having helped develop the BMW S1000RR from day one, Corser will continue honing the German superbike into the track weapon that Bavaria wants/needs. The only real question for Corser next year is who will join him.

The 39-year-old Corser has shown this season that despite his age, he’s still a former World Champion. With a handful of podiums, Corser has kept BMW on course with its stated objectives, and shown consistently marked improvements. However Corser hasn’t put the S1000RR on the top step, and BMW has made no secret about its intent to contend for the WSBK Championship title next season. The Germans are likely scouting their talent pool accordingly.

WSBK Silly Season: Haslam to BMW, Fabrizio to Alstare Suzuki, & Haga to an Aprilia [UPDATED]

09/21/2010 @ 3:20 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS

UPDATE 3: Michel Fabrizio has signed-on with Alstare Suzuki team for 2011.

UPDATE 2: Leon Haslam has signed with the BMW Factory Squad.

UPDATE: It’s being reported that Noriyuki Haga has agreed to ride with the DFX team on a factory Aprilia RSV4, with  an announcement delayed out of deference to Biaggi’s impending WSBK crowning.

While the MotoGP silly season is just starting to wind down, the World Superbike shuffling of riders is apparently just getting underway. So far this silly season we’ve seen Marco Melandri make the switch into WSBK Racing, joining the young Eugene Laverty in the Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, and clearly displacing James Toseland from a job. Johnny Rea has also been in the news, confirming that he’d be with Ten Kate Honda next season, despite being only two years into a three year contract, which was a strange announcement at the very least.

After Ducati’s little spat with Infront Motor Sports last month, the Xerox Ducati Team will be no more in 2011, leaving factory riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki S.O.L. when it comes to gainful employment, which is where our fist batch of silly season rumors starts us. If Moto.it‘s Carlo Baldi is to be believed (he is the listed press officer for Althea Ducati after all), Haga will find himself on a satellite Aprilia ride, while Michel Fabrizio will go to Alstare Suzuki. If you’re a die-hard WSBK fan you may realize that means that current Alstare Suzuki star Leon Haslam must be finding work elsewhere, with Baldi putting the British rider in the factory BMW squad. Still with us?

BMW Homologates New S1000RR Crankshaft

07/07/2010 @ 5:56 pm, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

The FIM has announced that BMW has homologated a new crankshaft design for World Superbike and World Superstock racing. Effective since June 10th, the new crankshaft, much like the Aprilia RSV4’s upgraded camshaft, could be part of the equation for BMW’s recent success in WSBK, and continued domination in STK1000.

WSBK: Battle for Second Leaves Runaway Finish During Race 2 at Misano

06/28/2010 @ 2:10 am, by Jensen BeelerComments Off

Hot World Superbike racing continued under the Italian summer sun as Race 2 was underway at Misano on Sunday. The home track for Aprilia looked for Max Biaggi to try for another weekend double, but BMW and Troy Corser set themselves as the team to beat all weekend long. With Corser on the pole, The Emperor had his work cut out for himself, not to mention the fact that the majority of the top WSBK teams had tested at Misano, and brought their A-game this weekend. Check after the jump for all the spoilers, results, and video highlights.